Last week, UNITE HERE Local 11, a union that represents service and hospitality workers across the American Southwest, asked 15,000 of its southern California members to vote on a strike authorization. Workers overwhelmingly voted to authorize the strike, with 96% of Local 11 members voting in favor. The strike authorization is a significant step towards convincing the region’s hotel operators to consider pay increases for their workers, many of which struggle to make ends meet.
Local 11’s move comes less than a month before 62 of its contracts with Southern California hotels are set to expire. For months, the union and hotels have attempted to negotiate new agreements but have failed to reach a consensus on Local 11’s proposals, including pay increases for its members and other provisions meant to address employees’ healthcare, pensions, work eligibility, and issues related to understaffing.
As California has emerged from the pandemic, the hospitality and tourism industries have roared back, with visitor spending expected to set new records in 2023. However, the workers that form the backbone of the two industries have largely not reaped the rewards of rebound. Rent hikes and increased living costs continue to force many hotel workers out of their homes while their employers fail to address persistently low wages.
Teukolsky Law stands in solidarity with Southern California’s hotel workers and commends the work Local 11 is doing to ensure workers are fairly compensated and protected heading into the summer.
Teukolsky Law Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Hyatt Under Local WORKLOAD ORDINANCE, The First Of Its Kind in the CountRy
Teukolsky Law filed a class action lawsuit today against the Hyatt Regency Long Beach alleging that Hyatt violated the Long Beach Hotel Working Conditions Initiative (“Initiative”), a measure passed by voters in 2018 to provide protections to hotel workers. A number of cities have passed similar hotel worker ordinances, including Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Seattle, and Oakland, among others. This is the first lawsuit in the country brought under one of these “Housekeepers’ Bill of Rights” laws. Lauren Teukolsky represents the plaintiffs along with Zoe Tucker of UNITE HERE Local 11.
The Initiative protects hotel employees against the risk of sexual assault by requiring hotels to provide them with panic buttons, and to post notices on guestroom doors stating that hotel workers may not be subjected to threatening behavior. It also has a “Humane Workload” provision that guarantees room attendants double pay on days when their workload exceeds proscribed limits.
The lawsuit alleges that Hyatt failed to post the required notices, and seeks injunctive relief requiring Hyatt to comply with the Initiative. The lawsuit further alleges that Hyatt failed to pay room attendants double when they cleaned more square footage than permitted by the Initiative. The lawsuit alleges that managers pressured housekeepers to work through their rest breaks to finish cleaning all of their assigned rooms as quickly as possible in violation of California law.
The lawsuit is part of a larger trend of local governments passing laws that are more protective of workers than states or the federal government. Los Angeles and several other cities have adopted Living Wage Ordinances, minimum wage ordinances, and sick pay ordinances that are far more protective of workers than state or federal legislation. Local ordinances to protect hotel workers from grueling workloads are just the latest example of efforts by cities to improve the working conditions of workers in specific industries. The trend can also be seen in fair scheduling ordinances, with Los Angeles recently passing the first such ordinance for retail workers. Cities such as Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Seattle have also passed various fair scheduling laws of their own.
If you believe that you have not been paid proper wages, contact Teukolsky Law today for a free consultation.
Lauren Teukolsky is the founder and owner of Teukolsky Law, A Professional Corporation.